Whether you are a teacher trying to figure out how to invest your limited class resource budget, or an edtech company trying to secure your place in the market, customer service is something to look at closely.
Strive for zero downtime
Whatever your product or service, it needs to work all the time. Teachers do not have time to do things that do not work. Test the heck out of your updates, especially on old devices that need updating. If you want to really help teachers, build amazing apps that run well on 5-8-year-old tech.
Join the conversation
I clearly remember the first company I chatted with on Twitter. I tweeted out a question about Camtasia and Techsmith replied. They solved my problem and I was a lifetime user and spokes teacher for all the great tools Techsmith makes to help teachers create media. It is clear that Techsmith has made pro-active customer engagement a priority.
When I am buying a robot, or signing up for a subscription app, I want to know that company will be available when I need help. (Yes, PLAN on a service call or 2 with any new tool). So when I research the product I look for a company that has a wide variety of customer service contact options. Are they in the social media space I am already in?
Chat > Phone
Anyone will tell you that multiple ways to contact customer service is important. When designing a service portal for teachers, chat more and talk less. I can leave a chat window logged in on my computer much longer than I can stay on hold.
Sphero has a rapid replacement policy for teachers. When I needed to get my robots services for a battery that wasn't charging, I emailed email@example.com, explained my situation and they mailed my replacement robots the same day I made the service call. Our robots passed each other in the mail and Sphero made sure I had robots for the last week of school.
Deliver on Promises
Obotix, the company behind Sphero and Ollie, is committed to supporting their robots in the classroom. In an emailed statement Bill Cullen, Product manager at Sphero stated: “Teachers can expect new robots within 3-4 days of reporting an issue to support, and we encourage them to mail back broken bots so we can get under the hood and see what went wrong, which influences our product dev cycle.” So their iterative cycle does not end upon delivery.
Become a Sponsor
Be engaged in the education community. Look for Edcamps and offer support. Many camps need help with coffee for 30-60 people, or a partial sponsor for lunch, (food trucks require a minimum and often a deposit). Edcamps will be happy to hand out information about an app to participants, but companies should not miss out on the rich opportunity to join the education conversation. Please set aside a small fund each year to help sponsor food at an event for teachers, but more than that go to an Edcamp. Go play at a playdate.
Choose to be a donor
Do you want to generate a lot of goodwill and create opportunities for others to share the work you are doing? Set up a profile on http://www.donorschoose.org/ and find some projects you can support. Lift up your target users, and become a supportive force in their world. Looking for something great to share on your social media? Adopt a campaign and share it like mad. Do some pro-bono social media work and build your own brand at the same time.
Creating hardware and software for the classroom that reflects a commitment to the highest possible pedagogical goals requires teachers, developers, publishers, and administrators to collaborate more than ever before. If you are interested in learning more about the business of Edtech collaboration at every step, from design to service, subscribe to our newsletter below and look for new Edtech Development content from TeacherCast.